{food for thought} FDA Looks At Synthetic Food Colorings. Gee, Thanks.

March 30, 2011

food coloring jello

Good news. Today and tomorrow, the FDA is working with experts to review evidence linking artificial food coloring to behavior and health problems in order to consider possible policy changes including label warnings.

Bad news. Though reassessing their longtime, unmitigated support for synthetic food dyes, the FDA is not calling into question the safety of food colorings, petroleum based food additives approved by the agency as far back as 1931.

Well, something’s better than nothing, right?

Sort of.

I mean, yes, of course I’d rather the FDA take a look at food dyes than not. But are labels the best we can get? They are only a step in the right direction if they are simply designed, adequately explained and truly regulated, and I can’t help but think, “Fat chance.” I mean, how many inscrutable food labels are there already? (Too many, is the answer.)

Before you call me a party pooper or, worse, uninformed, I know that the research up to this point has been conflicting and indecipherable at best, inconclusive at worst. But how did that become permission for the government to err on the side of synthetic food coloring, as it has for years. Shouldn’t we be more conservative about what we EAT. Many foods containing dyes are marketed specifically to children. We’re talking about artificial, petroleum based additives that go in our kids food.

Really? These additives are successfully banned in Europe, but not here?

Really? Kellogg’s uses all natural beet root red, annatto and paprika to color their strawberry Nutri-Grain Cereal Bars sold in U.K. and cheaper synthetic Red No. 40, Yellow No. 6 and Blue No. 1 to color the same product sold in the U.S.?

Really? This is okay?!

For as much evidence as there is claiming that food dyes are safe — much of it funded and/or promoted by the food manufacturing industry — there is research claiming that it is not, at the very least for kids with certain behavioral issues.

I hope that this FDA inquiry takes all of the variables and evidence into account to make a decision that errs on the side of what’s safest for the public. Then, yes, something will be better than nothing. Keep you posted…

So, do you think I”m overreacting? Do you sometimes feed your kids foods with synthetic dyes? Have you ever noticed that it changes their behavior?

Photo: iStockPhoto/jlynne203

Leave a Reply